The European Commission plans to accelerate the rollout of solar energy to end the reliance on Russian fossil fuels. A leaked draft of the REPowerEU plan sets out faster permitting rules for new projects and a solar strategy that could make rooftop solar mandatory for all new buildings.
The REPowerEU package is set to be presented next week and the document is still a work in progress, but the draft shows photovoltaics are one of the key components to phase out dependence on Russian fossil fuels. According to reports, the European Commission will push to increase solar power capacity to 300 GW for 2025 and to 500 GW for 2030 to speed up the transition to renewable energy, reduce emissions and Europe’s dependency on energy imports. The leaked plan also lays out a roadmap to boost solar energy.
The Commission plans to launch a “European Solar Rooftops Initiative” to cut gas-fuelled power and heating in homes, offices, shops and factories. This plan would add 17 TWh of electricity after its first year of implementation, which is 17 per cent higher than current EU projections. By 2025, it would generate 42 TWh of additional electricity, according to Euractiv.
The scheme would require the EU and national governments to limit permitting times to three months for rooftop installations while also push countries to use EU funding and launch support programmes for rooftop panels, and install solar energy in all suitable public buildings by 2025.
Although it’s still under consideration, the Commission might suggest making the installation of rooftop solar compulsory for all new buildings. The draft plan suggests having at least one renewable energy community in every municipality with a population of 10,000 or more by 2025. The Commission is set to propose schemes for training workers in the solar sector and supporting photovoltaic equipment manufacturing projects. Additionally, a “European Solar Industry Alliance” would be launched to establish an innovation-led, resilient solar value chain in Europe.
SolarPower Europe predicts that solar is set to deploy over 30 GW, including 1.5 million solar rooftops, by the end of this year. With the right frameworks in place, 1 TW of solar capacity is within reach for Europe by 2030 according to Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower. European solar deployment has surpassed expectations year after year, succeeding in some of the most difficult market circumstances.
There are also some EU governments which already expressed their support for increased ambitions. Austria, Belgium, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Spain recently signed a letter to the European Commission asking for higher EU solar ambition – including at least 1 TW EU solar by 2030.
With the ongoing war in Ukraine, the Commission is also considering boosting the target of renewable energy share. Last year, the Commission proposed to increase this share already to 40 per cent by 2030 and in March the European Parliament pushed it even further by suggesting to increase it to 45 per cent. Currently, 22 per cent of the EU’s energy consumption comes from renewables.